Over the next nine years, I graduated from SBVC, Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society with an Associate degree in both Human Services and Liberal Arts(2007); In 2005, I had enough credits to apply to attend at the University. I was attending both at the same time. I graduated from CSUSB, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a Social Services track(2009); and UoP, with a Master of Science degree in Psychology(2001). I did not take the test to be state licensed because of my felony convictions. It was back to the drawing board. I had to make something happen. It was 2011. Again, I did two things: I started a business and called it, Finding Redemption, (It focused on helping individuals and families with no permanent homes, but there was no pay, it was more community service), and I started writing a book about the failures of my life, finished and published it. It was entitled, THE BARBER’S GRANDDAUGHTER AND A PREACHER’S KID.
It would have been good if I’d made a lot of money, but I didn’t. However, it was more an “exhale” move. I wrote it because I needed to get everything out (all the hurt, pain, regret, and guilt) off my chest. I’d damaged a lot of people, including my children and myself. I needed some closure, and I needed to express my remorse, I didn’t love or forgive myself, and I was stuck. There had not been a day that passed that I hadn’t gone over my past. It was killing trust, my ability to socialize, and much of that hasn’t changed. I am 15 years celibate, and still unwilling to even try a relationship, even if just friends.
By 2016, my ability to run my business became impossible. I didn’t have a lot of money to fund the non-profit anymore. After five years, when my business license expired, the doors of Finding Redemption closed. By that time, I had gained the respect of the church, and community. I have given back, and paid it forward, and will continue to do so. I have not re-offended in over 18 years, and only God has forgiven me. But isn’t that the point? Only God can judge. You would think with all that I did to improve and change, someone would see this heart that I wear on my chest. Sometimes I think they want real blood. I ask myself, why I’m still holding on. The answer: I truly believe there is a designated person out there, not by chance, but by divine intervention.
If there is anyone reading this who has the power and nerve to change someone’s life, please step out on faith. I have been waiting for that you! The person who will allow me an opportunity to prove who I say I am, but so far it hasn’t happened, but I’m not giving up, either. I am an activist, and I am passionate about this subject because I believe it is one of the main causes for the high rate of recidivism found in the Black and Brown cultures, which in turn destroys the family system. If I ever find myself in the position, I plan to speak out, and fight for all people who’ve received this type of “life sentence” for the crimes they’ve committed. Just one more thing: Refusing us a way to earn a living is a set up for us to fail. Don’t give up, and don’ give in. Keep trying, and stay free!